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Emirates returns to Nigeria after 25 months

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag carrier, Emirates, will resume flight services to Nigeria from 1 October, 2024, operating a daily service between Lagos and…

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag carrier, Emirates, will resume flight services to Nigeria from 1 October, 2024, operating a daily service between Lagos and Dubai.

It would be over two years (exactly 25 months) after the airline suspended flights to Nigeria over blocked funds amounting to over $85m.

Authorities in the UAE also followed with a visa ban on Nigerians thereby halting movement between Nigeria and UAE.

Daily Trust reports that the President Bola Tinubu-led federal government had reopened negotiations with the UAE authorities and Emirates Airlines with a view to resolving the pending issues.

It would be recalled that Tinubu had in August paid a visit to the UAE to resolve the lingering diplomatic row between the two countries which has seen the UAE flag carrier, Emirates, suspending flights to Nigeria.

After the visit, the presidential spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, had said the UAE had agreed to lift the visa ban while Emirates and Etihad would soon resume flights.

Later, the federal government backtracked, saying the agreements during the visit were still being fine-tuned.

After the back and forth, Emirates Airlines yesterday announced resumption of flights promising to offer customers more choice and connectivity from Nigeria’s largest city to, and through, Dubai.

The service, it said, will be operated using a Boeing 777-300ER. EK783 will depart Dubai at 0945hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1520hrs; the return flight EK784 will leave Lagos at 1730hrs and arrive in Dubai at 0510hrs the next day.Emirates’ Deputy President and Chief Commercial Officer, Adnan Kazim, said, “We are excited to resume our services to Nigeria. The Lagos-Dubai service has traditionally been popular with customers in Nigeria and we hope to reconnect leisure and business travellers to Dubai and onwards to our network of over 140 destinations.

“We thank the Nigerian government for their partnership and support in re-establishing this route and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard.”

‘Visa ban yet to be lifted’

Though Emirates is resuming in the next five months, the UAE is expected to lift the visa ban slammed on Nigerians immediately after the airline announced flight cessation.

Checks yesterday indicated that the visa ban is still in place while sources said the visa ban would be lifted before the resumption of the flights.

‘Emirates’ resumption will reduce fares’

Speaking with our correspondent, General Secretary of Aviation Roundtable, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, stated that the planned resumption of Emirates’ Airline would further crash air fares on the international routes.

He however said there would be the need for the suspension of visa ban imposed on Nigerians while cautioning that any Nigerian carrier that would be flying to the UAE must be given an equal treatment Emirates would be getting in Nigeria.

“We would have more options on the international routes now and we expect it to affect the prices of tickets. Emirates has always been strong with intercontinental flights using Dubai as their hub.

“Outside of that, what are they bringing to the table here? Are they going to start issuing visas to Nigerians before October 1? In doing that, will they also allow our own flag carriers to enter Dubai to ensure what happened the last time doesn’t happen again? We must be given a Dubai slot if they are getting a Lagos slot.

“We must make it clear before October 1st that whatever you enjoy in Nigeria, the Nigerian counterpart must have the same frequencies and slot allocation time. Going to collect a letter from the ambassador is not what we need,” he added.

Aviation Management Consultant, Babatunde Adeniji, said Emirates’ return would lead to more flight options and “hopefully effect a positive price impact in the industry.”

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